It’s now a fact, the market for online courses is so big that it’s no longer even considered just “another web trend”.
It has become another web-based industry with a bandwagon effect.
According to Guide2Research, it is estimated that more than 30% of American students are enrolled in at least one online course.
Online courses are becoming increasingly popular. Anyone can make good money by creating and selling one.
More people are joining, and creating training and knowledge-based courses to sell online.
- It’s profitable.
- It can be done part-time.
- You get to access a huge marketplace without having to worry about buying inventory.
- And most importantly, your competition is at a minimum.
Have you ever wondered how to create and sell profitable online courses?
Whether you’re an expert at something or not, creating and selling online courses is a great way to earn money from home.
And that’s the main reason for the popularity of this type of knowledge sharing.
It’s a passive income from the get-go.
If you’re thinking of creating a course. Or if you’ve just decided to do it, this post is for you.
In this guide, I’m going to cover everything you need to know to create and sell your first online course.
This is a detailed and definitive guide, starting from choosing a profitable topic to creating knowledge-based content.
So, are you ready?
But before we delve into it, it’s advisable you read this post to the end and read it carefully. Reading a part and think you all set up won’t work.
Stick with me to the end and let’s get you on track fully prepared.
What are online courses?
Online courses cover an abundance of topics that anyone may be interested in. People can choose from hundreds of free courses, paid courses, and niche courses that will help them to learn something new.
Online courses are a way of learning that allows students to study whenever and wherever they want.
It is available to enrolled students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via computers and smartphones with internet access.
Learning new skills has never been easier.
It’s even possible to earn college credit for some of these courses when you finish. This will lead to you having more options for a career or new job.
Online courses allow you to go through the same material, tests, and exams that a traditional student would experience.
Interestingly, you get to do all from the comfort of your own home or office.
Awesome, isn’t it?
Who are online courses for?
Online courses are for people who have jobs and families. Or people that are just too busy to find time to go down to a physical class.
For example, most of us don’t have time to drive to the gym, change, and then style our hair for a date we have later that night.
However, with online courses, you are able to do it from your cell phone or smart device. Plus, with online courses, you can go back at any time if you didn’t get it the first time around.
It’s a perfect choice for self-motivated, goal-oriented students who love to learn.
Anyone who needs to take a class and learn at their pace. Whether they’re after a particular certification, or just need the training to improve their skills.
The real kicker is that there are hundreds of thousands of people would want to take a course on the topic on which you are an expert!
Open yourself up to the world and create your own online course today.
Connect with the global audience and start sharing your knowledge with the world.
And then what? Start making super-cool money.
Why create courses and sell online?
Creating courses is a great way to build your reputation or business online.
Offering courses online can also be a great side business idea if you have knowledge in a certain subject.
For example, if you love cooking, creating an online course on cooking can help you sell your cooking classes and really make some extra money teaching people what you love!
The satisfaction of having people leave your courses happy and with more skills than when they first started.
Seeing your students succeed because of the knowledge they gained from your course.
Getting a great deal of passive income for sharing your knowledge.
All of this is most definitely worth the hard work you put into producing quality courses online.
Okay. Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it.
Choose a profitable course topic for your online courses
The first step in creating your online course is choosing a profitable course topic. The topic for your online course can make or break the success of your business.
A huge part of marketing a course online is picking the right topic.
It can make or break your sales. Unfortunately, many people do not know what topics are profitable.
What is a profitable topic?
It is a course that will sell.
A topic that has a certain appeal to its target market’s interests.
It can be a niche topic which means it is something that no one else has written about.
Topic is the first thing that attracts prospective students’ attention. So, it needs to be attractive enough to pique their interests.
Your potential students must be eager to invest in the topic.
It is essential to choose a hot topic, or niche that has a marketplace now or will have one in the future.
The course topic should be one that you know a lot about, and ideally one that you are passionate about.
This way you can convey information not just in an informative way, but also in an entertaining and engaging style.
You will also want to pick something that allows you to provide ample value to your students.
How do you choose a profitable topic for your online course?
Shoot for specific topics.
Research shows that the more specific you can be with your topic, the higher the enrollment rates.
For example, if your course is on saying no at work, this doesn’t really provide a clear picture for students.
What if you called it, How to Say No Without Burning Bridges and Still Get Promoted?
Looks better and compelling, right?
A title like that directs the reader immediately on how to take away value from reading your course.
A good way to finding an easy topic is to make a list of things you know well enough.
Next to each entry, create 2 columns: High Demand/Low Competition and Low Demand/High Competition.
By the time you’re done making the list, you will have multiple topics. You can then decide to choose a more specific topic that require less research.
Remember, you don’t want to pick a topic that is hard to teach.
Go for something unique. Keep it specific. Keep it simple.
What are the best niches for online courses?
Here are a few of the several categories of online courses you can choose a profitable topic from.
- Computers and Technology
- Business and Entrepreneurship
- Arts & Crafts
- Writing and Content Creation/marketing
- Personal Development
From each of the niches above, you can derive hundreds of profitable topics. I’m talking about untapped sellable ideas that will generate massive traffic.
Choose a niche of your choice, the one you’re grounded in.
Ensure you settle only with a topic that has tons of search traffic looking for it.
Because, that’s the sure way to get real money. You don’t want to create an online course that has little to no traffic.
Is it unique?
What’s the percentage of people searching for it online?
Choose a reliable e-learning platform for your online courses
When it comes to developing and selling online courses, choosing the right e-learning platform makes all the difference.
The internet is full of courses, but not all are made equal.
Therefore, to ensure your course is accessible to learners, you need an e-Learning platform.
What is a reliable e-learning platform?
A reliable e-learning platform is one that renders content without any technical glitch or interruption.
The platform should be able to handle the volume of learners who are at different levels of expertise.
It must be able to help users navigate through the learning process with ease.
A reliable e-learning platform provides everything you need to successfully create, deliver, and track the performance of your online courses.
A reliable platform enables you to offer strong customer support, as well as easy access to the content and account holders.
How do you choose a reliable e-learning platform to create and sell your online courses?
Learning how to create and sell your own online courses can be a stressful venture, especially with so many e-learning platforms out there.
To help ease the decision process, one option is to choose an e-learning platform that is used by a variety of experts and companies.
Does it give you access to powerful marketing tools?
Does it allow for a convenient way to save money when you sell your own courses?
What about the payment gateway of the platform?
Does it support integrations with other systems you need to help run your business?
You will need a user-friendly platform with a high-security level, adaptive design, and easy start options.
Ensure you do thorough research before choosing an online course platform. Not all platforms claimed to be reliable will fit your needs.
You can start by digging deep into each of the following platforms below.
Some of the best e-learning platforms that can be used for online courses
Most e-learning platforms can not be trusted and difficult to use.
Thankfully, a few good platforms also exist that are affordable, easy-to-use, flexible for different course structures, and have great user support.
Here are my top 8 picks.
Udemy is a major online learning and teaching marketplace. They’re revolutionizing the educational system around the world.
The platform is enabling anyone to teach, learn, and share from anywhere in the world. They have a wide range of topics to choose from.
Udemy strives to set the standards for online courseware. They have a vibrant community of more than 40 million students worldwide, connected and engaged through their platform.
With 155,000 courses and 70,000 instructors teaching courses in over 65 languages, unarguably, Udemy is a leading e-learning platform.
This e-learning platform has made it easy, for academic institutions, businesses or individuals to create their own interactive and easy-to-follow courses.
Create and join a community of learners to get the help you need to succeed in your online courses.
Udemy is in charge of enrolling students, collecting fees, and providing appropriate reviews. When anyone buys your online course, you get paid.
However, Udemy gets 50% per sale of your online course.
A different type of learning platform, Ruzuku focuses on the idea that anyone can be a teacher.
It’s a learning management system that was created with ease of user interaction in mind.
And with how much thought is put into it, it’s not hard to see why Ruzuku makes this list of the 8 best e-learning platforms.
The platform supports the entire workflow of creating, managing, moderating, and measuring results of training courses.
Ruzuku is easy to modify.
It has so many cool features such as PayPal payment gateway, MailChimp integrations, Course validation, etc.
On Educadium, you can create your own online courses or use one of its hundreds of online course templates!
With Educadium’s platform, you’ll never have to worry about creating your own e-learning course again!
It has a robust set of features. With automatic enrollment, mobile applications, social networking functionality, and easy management of online cohorts and classes.
Educadium provides everything you need to launch and run successful online training courses.
You can create your own online courses or use one of its hundreds of templates.
It also offers analytics and reports about students’ engagement and progress.
Create, manage and profit from your online course.
Ready to create, market, sell and deliver your own online courses?
Thinkific is your got-to e-learning platform.
Its ready-made templates allow you to design promotional videos and landing pages.
No matter the intent (business or personal), and no matter the industry, Thinkific can help people of all skill levels to take their ideas and teach them effectively online.
Thinkific helps you build your online course quickly and easily using its intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
No coding. Not tech stress.
Thinkific also integrates with many major payment processors such as Stripe and PayPal.
It offers everything an instructor needs for running online classes.
Easy-to-use templates, live analytics, student grading, and custom theme creation are some of what you enjoy.
The platform strives to be the best one in its niche, so you can bet your chances on it.
Teachable is a powerful, simple-to-use, all-in-one platform that helps individuals easily create and sell online courses and coaching services.
The Teachable online course creation platform includes tools that help you instantly produce high-quality content without needing to be a technical expert or wait for IT support.
Teachable is a full hosting service, meaning you have access to 24/7 support with quick and easy installation, updates, backups and scaling.
The platform offers lesson plans, video hosting, team management tools, student management tools, and several other cool features.
Teachable comes with everything you need to create your own online course instantly.
It features an intuitive interface, built-in audio capture, and several tools for branding your content.
The platform can be used by coaches, entrepreneurs, newbie course creators, or creative artists.
Kajabi is an all-one platform that lets you get your online course, membership site, or coaching programs up and running in minutes.
You can host your monthly membership site and sell your course directly on the platform.
Its feature called pipelines let you build an entire marketing funnel. From a sales page to Facebook ads, with only a few clicks.
This helps you get students excited about your content and eager to learn more on your platform.
Make the most of every second spent marketing by automating tedious tasks like opt-in fills, email sequences, blog posts, social media updates.
Create beautiful landing pages that convert.
Kajabi offer varied pricing options, deliver drip email campaigns to nurture subscribers.
Isn’t that amazing?
With a Kajabi account, you get everything you need to create marketing campaigns that grow your course.
LearnWorlds is a fully integrated, real-time education platform giving you everything you need to create engaging courses.
It’s easy to use, and you can get started in minutes, not days or weeks.
You can also make your online course interactive, unique and social with LearnWorlds.
LearnWorlds is ideal for anyone who wants to deliver courses that have a social network feel.
It offers fast and easy-to-use tools that help you convert your existing videos. You can easily turn your videos into one immersive and interactive experience.
Plus an assessment tool that allows instructors to quickly gauge student understanding.
LearnWorlds’ tools and features are all unique in the online learning marketplace.
When they first launched, Podia was focused on the topics of health and wellness.
They have since expanded to a number of niches including beauty, entrepreneurship, marketing, personal development, education, and more.
The benefit of this is that anyone can use their platform to sell any type of e-course or online membership.
Podia’s elegant customization options give users full control over their entire business.
User can set up their own account area, link to their social media groups and define their own branding.
Its user interface includes a drag-and-drop design that makes it really easy to build courses.
The biggest advantage that Podia seems to have is that it has no transaction fees.
Its basic plan starts at $39 per month. It also offers two months free with an annual plan and includes unlimited courses and users.
What I love about Podia is its strong focus on supporting affiliate marketing of your products.
Create your course smoothly, and market it easily.
Important: Do not choose your online course platform based on these short reviews. The platforms are not built the same way. Take your time and research them to know which is perfect for your needs.
Can I use a learning management system (LMS) with a content management system (CMS)?
Well, using LMS with the help of content management systems like WordPress isn’t a bad idea.
However, I won’t recommend you use LMS on content management systems.
Especially if you’re a beginner and has no name yet in the online courses industry. It can make or break the ROI on your online course marketing efforts.
Start with a well-known and reliable e-learning platform first. Earn yourself a good reputation.
Ensure you have a good number of students craving for more after taking your first course. Then, you can choose to build your website and use an LMS to create more online courses.
Identify the target audience for your online course
The goal of online courses is to educate a target audience.
Whatever you’ll teach in your online course must be relevant to each member of your target audience.
You have to clearly identify the target audience for your online course or program.
This means that you will probably need to do some research and planning before you can create your online course.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your online course is right for everyone.
The problem with trying to reach everyone is that you reach no one! Focus on finding out who your target market is.
You can find people interested in your class by looking for sites related to your topic.
For example, if you have a course about gardening, check out the sites that provide information on gardening and landscaping in your area.
You can also find people online by searching for keywords related to your topics.
When determining your target audience, follow these steps:
Determine your audience’s demographics
You don’t expect everyone to buy whatever course you’re selling, except it is oxygen.
If your current or target market is men, then your course should be aimed at them.
So now you know who you’re writing for, what do they like? Young, old, educated, conservative, or liberal?
Knowing this will help you create better knowledge-based course content because you know the reader’s personality and perspective.
It’s now easier to create more effective materials and to highlight the key benefits of your online course.
The more accurate you can target your audience base, the more successful your online course will be.
Determine your audience’s needs
If you’ve determined the type of student you want to attract, consider their motivations for enrolling in this online course.
What do they expect to benefit from it?
Are they most concerned with learning a specific skill? Completing the course successfully? Or even advancing their career?
Does your course actually align with their needs and offer them something that they’re genuinely curious about?
What is the challenge they are facing that your online course is the solution to?
You need to put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself the questions they will have.
By doing this, you’ll be able to address their concerns in your course content.
Determine how your customer will learn about your online course
The key is to find the right platform that your audience will be receptive to.
Think about how people in your target customer group learn.
If they are more visual learners, perhaps you want to use video ads that they can engage with on their smartphones.
Or run social media ads with compelling headings and graphics.
Are they a trendy bunch or a niche crowd?
Know where your audience gets information and how they scour information online.
Create your online course content
All right. So you now know why you’re creating an online course, and who it’s for.
It’s time to create your course content.
Your course is going to be full of valuable information, and there’s no way that you can fit all of that into just one lesson.
Organize your content into modules and keep in mind that the more time you give yourself to create each lesson, the better the final product will be.
What format is perfect for your online course materials ?
Creating and selling your own online course can be an exciting adventure and a money-making opportunity.
However, you will need to understand what format your materials will take before you start creating them.
Your students will learn best if you create a course they can easily digest, one that fits into their busy lives and inspires them to take action.
Is there a format that would work best for your topic?
Online courses come in all formats. There are video courses, downloadable PDFs, and live webinar events, text-only courses (and even a mix of two or three formats).
The choice is really about what you want to teach and if you have a method for teaching it.
What are the inexpensive tools you will need?
Canva is a free online design platform.
Not only does it let you create handy little PDF workbooks, but you can personalize them with your own cover and graphics (or choose from their library) and change the text to suit your needs.
It’s as easy as uploading your content, adding text boxes, picking a template, and uploading images.
There are endless options within Canva to boost your online course design.
With a large selection of fonts, stock images, graphics, and layout suggestions at your fingertips, you can easily create engaging and visually appealing content that will help you engage with your target market.
Its easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface allows anyone to go from idea to image in seconds.
Designing your course to keep the interest of your audience may be easy when part of the material is in video form.
Camtasia is a video capture and production software tool that allows you to create professional-quality screencasts to complement your course.
Camtasia has built-in editing tools, allowing you to quickly format and enhance your videos.
Its videos will help increase engagement which is a key factor in creating a successful online course.
Camtasia is great for visual learners as it allows you to add drawings, text, audio, and videos into one video.
By using Camtasia, you can be sure that your students are going to be able to grasp and retain all the valuable information you’re going to be sharing with them.
Your finished result will be a personalized and visually appealing tool that gives your audience a great learning experience.
Zoom is a popular tool that allows you to video conference live with people from all over the world.
Zoom’s free option gives you a webinar room for 100 participants. You can also use Zoom for video interviews, screen sharing, and video recording.
Using the paid version of Zoom will give you more options but is not necessary to run your online course.
You can even sell subscriptions or group coaching packages directly on zoom for all your pre-course inquiries.
Using Zoom you can chat with your class, exchange files, and even run polls and quizzes.
It also provides you with a URL for sharing on social media so that your students can easily join from home or on their mobile devices.
Zoom is an easy and convenient way to host live calls with your online course participants.
Where do I start?
Start by creating a course outline.
Course outlines are an effective way to break up your content into logical sections.
To create your course outline, first, decide how long you want the course to be. Consider including periods for real-time interaction.
Brainstorm ideas (and research) of the sub-topics about which you want to teach and use those sub-topics to organize your instructions.
Start with the broadest topics and go into greater depth as you progress.
Then carefully choose what content will be included, and how it will be organized.
The visual organization makes it easier for students to locate information.
Once you have an idea of what you want to talk about make sure to have at least 3 different educational points per chapter.
When you have a complete outline or a table of contents, you can then dive into creating your online course bit by bit.
Test your course
Hello, are you there?
You’re close already. Just a few more necessary steps and boom, your online course is live making waves.
After creating your online course, the next thing to test it before inviting your target audience.
Why do I need to test my online course before launching it?
In order to maximize the impact of your online course, you first need to test it.
An online course is subject to any legal, quality, and functionality issues that need to be taken into consideration before you launch it.
As a course developer, you need to ensure that all the content is there, links work, and are responsive.
You want to be sure formatting is correct, videos are functioning properly, quiz questions are correct and understandable by your students.
Currently, there are no regulations or enforced standards in this industry.
The only way for you to know for sure that standardized and tested products are created is to perform quality control testing on your course materials.
In my opinion, you will create a better quality course if you test it, and not just publish it after stuffing a bunch of content in it.
Remember, it’s better to find problems (and fix them) now than after the course has launched.
Put a price on your online course
Unless you are planning to give out your online course for free (which is not why this comprehensive guide is written), you will want to put a price on it.
This is a step you’ll want to consider carefully.
Making the best decision about how to price your online course is essential for building a profitable online business.
Pricing your online course well means finding the right balance between price and perceived value (human psychology).
It also means being fair to yourself.
People will ignore your course as unimportant, too cheap, or not what they’re looking for if you charge too little.
If you charge too much, they would either refuse to buy it or become enraged at being duped into buying something they thought was cheap.
So, how should you price your online course?
I recommend you use the goal-based model. Choose what’s most important to you.
If you want to make money, price it as high as the market will bear. If you want to help people and do work that matters, price it as low as possible.
Whatever pricing model you use, your course will definitely be relevant to your target audience.
Launch your online course
Congratulations. I’m glad you made it to the last step.
Once your online course is ready, it’s time to launch it and start marketing.
You’ll need to publish your course and share it with the world. This includes setting up your payment options, sharing links, creating traffic, making sure buying is simple for your customers.
A central aspect of the launch will be getting people to know that your course exists and make purchasing it a no-brainer for people.
No one will know about your online course if you don’t tell them.
What are the tips that can help you promote your online course faster?
- Dedicate to sharing relevant and useful content from your online course on social media
- Start a podcast based on the problem your course is meant to solve
- Run series of webinars to connect with your target audience
- Offer a free mini-course material to build your email list
- Pay for Ads to get your online course a great deal of exposure
- Use guest post strategy
- Offer a discount with urgency
- Write a compelling sales page
- Share testimonials from people who you have helped in the past
It doesn’t matter how great your course content is if your prospective students can’t find you.
Online marketing is not optional. It’s an absolute necessity. A course without a presence will not attract students.
How much does it cost to make online courses?
Creating an online course is not as expensive as many assume, in fact you can set up a course for under $200 with the help of free resources.
The major costs you will need to consider are the software that will allow you to create your lessons and screen capture programs to record your computer desktop.
How soon can I start making money from my online course?
Almost right away, if you’re offering a well-priced online course for a specific learning outcome that other people want.
How many hours does it take to develop 1 hour of training?
Developing an hour of interactive e-learning can take between 49 and 716 hours, depending on the complexity of the subject covered and the level of detail required.
These hour ranges take into account such factors as script development, design, voice talent sourcing, animation production, sound production/arranging, editing and merging.
Can I use another person materials to create my online course?
Yes. However, if you do use their materials, be sure to have something in the online course that shows credit is given to that person or company.
You can also include the link to their website.
Can I use tablet for online teaching?
Yes, you can. You can use a tablet for online teaching when the tablet has a built-in camera and audio output function.
The audio output function makes it possible to record the class freely because there is no need to connect a microphone to the tablet.
There’s no doubt, creating and selling courses online can be a very lucrative way of working for yourself.
However, like any business venture, it takes planning and effort in order to succeed.
Crafting an online course and selling it can be a complex process.
With an online course, you create a product that will give people the tools and confidence they need to get better at their craft and impact the world.
But remember, the most important step in creating, promoting, and selling your course online is to actually make it.